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Turkey saw a surge in holiday bookings this summer and into the autumn thanks to its presence on the UK’s “safe” travel destination list. However, travel dreams were shattered last night when the Government made the decision to remove the country from the list.
This means any holidaymakers who arrive back from Turkey as of 4am on October 3 will face 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
Anyone found in breach of this rule will be faced with a fine of up to £10,000.
Though some travel operators, particularly hose offering package holidays, have cancelled trips upon the news, many holidaymakers who booked travel components separately could be faced with a battle for their refund.
A predicament arises for customers who have booked flights which, despite the quarantine rules, are still going ahead.
Though many airlines are offering passengers the opportunity to rebook to a later date or take a voucher for future travel, some are not issuing cash refunds.
Coby Benson, Solicitor at Bott and Co warned: “Passengers are at risk of losing their money in this situation since there is no law which requires an airline to provide a refund if the flight goes ahead, but the passenger was unable to travel.”
Luckily, he did have some advice for holidaymakers who find themselves in this situation.
He explained: “The only possible recourse is if the passenger has insurance which covers those particular circumstances; or the particular airline has amended their terms to allow passengers to receive a refund or rebook, in those circumstances.
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“Fortunately there are many airlines taking the pragmatic approach of making their terms and conditions more generous in these circumstances so that passengers can book their flights safe in the knowledge that they won’t lose out if they themselves cannot travel due to quarantine restrictions.”
Given the uncertainty of travel at the moment, and the frequent amendments to travel corridors, travel expert Simon Calder has said package holidays are the “gold standard” when it comes to protection.
Speaking on the Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live the travel expert said: “If you have done what I would say is the gold standard of consumer protection and booked a package holiday then its absolutely terrific because you can accept a postponement knowing that with the refund credit note system you can either take a credit note for a holiday later on or actually rebook and your ATOL protection will continue which means if anything does go wrong with the company then you will get your money back.”
Since the news broke about Turkey last night, many package holiday providers have already made moves to cancel holidays and provide reimbursements to guests whose plans have been impacted.
One such holiday firm is the newly relaunched Thomas Cook.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a Thomas Cook spokesperson said: “Following the latest announcement on the Government’s travel corridors, holidays and short breaks to Turkey and Poland have been removed from the Thomas Cook website, the company has confirmed.
“The brand, which re-launched last month as a ‘COVID-ready’ travel company, only sells holidays to destinations on the Government’s safe travel corridor list and has committed to providing flexibility to customers affected by changes to the rules.
They continued: “Turkey has been so popular since we launched and it’s a huge shame that we have had to stop selling holidays to this fantastic country. We are in touch with customers who are due to head out there in the next two weeks to see if they want to move their holiday elsewhere or to a later date.
“We are also contacting all those customers currently enjoying a holiday in Turkey to help them decide what to do.”
“For any other customers who have booked a Turkey holiday and want to discuss their options, give us a ring or drop us a chat and our team will be happy to help.”
Announcing the latest changes to the travel corridor list, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps tweeted: “TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: The latest data indicates we need to remove Turkey, Poland, and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba from the #TravelCorridor list this week.
“This means if you arrive from these destinations from 4am Saturday 3 October, you will need to self-isolate.”
The minister continued: “You MUST self-isolate if you enter the UK from a non-exempt country – from tomorrow, we’re increasing the penalties for people who refuse to do so to a maximum of £10,000 for repeat offenders.”
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